A Reminder About iHype

About a month ago, I wrote about the pending iPhone launch and how I felt the hype would resume interest in mobile marketing by leading consumer advertisers and agencies. Since then, I’ve received lots of messages and calls from friends, clients, and readers about ways to leverage this current stage of “iHype.”

While jumping into the pond to get your feet wet is a great way to start, you must decide to get into mobile marketing for the long haul and develop a meaningful relationship with consumers.

Regardless of platform, bear in mind the relationship an owner has with her mobile device. Usually, it’s a private medium (some research shows some people keep their mobile phones under the pillow when they sleep) that’s most likely the closest non-human relationship a human can have. We rely on our phones and devices daily to keep us connected, in touch, entertained, and on track. Marketers must appeal to those needs to have any relevance in the mobile space and, eventually, in the consumer’s life.

A lot of mobile marketing programs fail. Why? Because the message, its delivery, or both benefited only one side of the relationship: the advertiser’s. Often, the advertiser overvalues the message’s importance and intrudes on the consumer’s mobile device relationship. This gives mobile marketing a bad name.

Programs that will succeed, however, revolve around the concept of mobile minders. Mobile minders are intended to help consumers maintain a relationship with your brand, product, or service. They’re opt-in via a short code, their purpose is well-documented, enrollment instructions are provided, and the messages have the best intentions. These programs are useful.

When developing your next mobile strategy, ask yourself:

  • Does this program make my life easier? The entertainment industry is doing a great job with mobile. As a New York City resident, I’m subject to a tremendous amount of outdoor advertising. In the fall, I see a lot of ads for TV shows I’ll likely never watch because I forget to record them or they get lost in the clutter. Many of these ads now feature a call to action such as, “For show time reminders, text “remind” to “1234.” Mobile programs that remind me at 7 a.m. to set my DVR to record a new show seem to work and are welcome in my private mobile relationship. They make it easier to remember something I want to do.
  • Will it surprise and delight me? Starbucks recently ran a nationwide promotion for free coffee as it asked America to partake in a national coffee break. A series of ads promoted the event, but who was going to remember 10 a.m. to 12 p.m. on March 15? To help remind America, Starbucks asked people to opt in for a text message reminder. On March 15, registrants received a text message from Starbucks. It was a useful reminder, along with a bit of social currency to share with colleagues as we went for coffee.
  • Does it motivate me? Nike has a very successful fitness-oriented site: Nike+. The program includes mobile reminders of members’ current status, along with encouragement to meet goals. There’s something nice about receiving a text message at 4:30 p.m. telling you you’re only 5 miles from reaching your goal. I don’t know if the delivery time was intended, but it certainly works better for me than if it were sent at 11 a.m.

Mobile reminders can be simple. It’s in that simplicity they overdeliver on consumer value.

Nominate your choice of technologies, companies, and campaigns that made a positive difference in the online marketing industry in the last decade. Nominations end August 3 at 5:00 pm (EDT).

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